Makes about 1 quart
2 lbs unsalted butter
Prelude: the point in making usli ghee is threefold.
i) Separate out the butterfat (a collection of triglcerides)
from the milk solids.
ii) Roast the milk solids in the fat, thereby intensifying
the "butter flavor", making it nutlike or "superbutter"
as my other calls it.
iii) Remove from the end result all the water that is
in the butter to begin with.
This procedure should take about 1 hour.
1. Put the butter in a heavy bottomed, 2-3 qt. sauce pan over
medium-high heat until the butter melts.
[Do not ever use original (pyroceram) Corning ware for this.
2. Allow the butter to begin boiling. It is going to behave
a bit like molten lava, with erruptions, and a "spatter
guard" is a very good thing to use for this. The boiling
will suddenly turn to frothing - and at this point you are
in DANGER of having the hot butter froth up and over the
the pot, come in contact with the heat source and catch fire,
one that will be in need of a fire extinguisher.
This needs watching.
3. At the first clear sign of froth coming up in the pot, remove
the pot from the heat source and it will subside. Stir with
a wooden spoon, if necessary.
4. Lower the heat to a simmer level, and return to the pot to
the heat. You will need to find a way to adjust the heat
so that there will be no frothing, but that there will be
a "simmering". Think of it with a much longer time scale
than simmering with water would be. The occasional
erruption will be controlled by a spatter guard over the
Do not even think about using a pot lid. That will not
only thwart the evaporation of the water, but with the
condenstion falling back into the very hot oil, there can
can also be other very unpleasant reactions involving
5. The butter will begin to smell nutlike after a while and
turn an enticing deep golden color. You want this "low"
temperature which is enough to roast the milk solids, and
to evaporate the water, but not enough to cause any great
disturbances in the butter fat globally.
The fat, being globally quiescent, with minor disturbances
will allow and induce most of the milk solids to gravitate
to the bottom of the pan and a little on the surface of
Don't do any stirring of the fat once the roasting period
has begun with this separating.
Keep a close watch on the ghee, as the milk solids can burn
easily and suddenly, going from the desired brown to burnt.
The actual roasting period will be shorter for a higher
temperature, but you are courting disaster by cranking
the heat up too high. Moderation is the key.
You can use the wooden spoon to move away any of the foam
on the surface in order to see if the milk solids are roasted.
This a color cue that is difficult to describe except to say
that the solid will at first appear as white filtered through
the yellow fat. When you guess that it is golden filtered
through the yellow fat, you are finished.
There is a trade off going on here as to when the pot is
physically removed from the heat source. The butterfat
has a high specific heat and so the milk solids will continue
cooking in it for quite a while after you take the heat
source from it. On the other hand the better roasted the
milk solids, the more flavorful will be the ghee.
If you see that maybe you have reached a critical point
in milk solid browning, remove from heat and put the pot
in a cold water bath, e.g. in the sink. I do this sometimes
when time is short anyhow. But don't let it cool too much.
The bottom of the pan should be, after taking it from the
cold water, only cool enough so that the fingers can be
held on it without feeling burned. The ghee should then
be about 185°F.
Cooling too much will cause the fat to begin to solidify
and make the straining problematic. You can see the point
of too much cooling when the otherwise clear fat starts
to become cloudy; it is starting to solidify.
6. Now, after passing this test of pot temperature, decant
the pot's contents slowly and gently (safely in a sink)
decant and strain using your finest mesh tea strainer
into a quart plastic or glass or ceramic container.
Cover and refrigerate.
It will keep indefinitely, and be harder than butter when
refrigerated. Some say it doesn't even need to be
kept refrigerated. I figure, oils do tend to go rancid
and refrigeration slows this process down, ergo, do it.
0. Words and meanings:
We are making "usli ghee", in Hindi, "pure ghee". Without
this qualification, the ordinary word "ghee" refers to any
cooking oil, or to amy combination of them in Hindi.
Brits and most of their relatives mean by the word simply
clarified butter. USsians, however, are mostly ignorant of
the word, or possibly know only the British usage, but have
no idea of the real substance.
1. Cooking with ghee: its flavor is a major recommendation,
and it is often used in the finishing touches to many Indian
dishes, as dark sesame oil is used as a finish in Chinese
dishes, and simply melted butter is used in French dishes.
But since all the burnable solids have been removed it can
also be used in extremely high temperature cooking.
However, at very high temperatures, the flavoring is mostly
lost and you will see that its golden color is lost as well:
the ghee will become as clear and as uncolored as water.
2. The use of ghee has all sorts of ayurvedic recommendations.
Personally, I think them mostly scientific nonsense, but,
as for example, a base for ointments, there is nothing
wrong with it.
3. I have heard something about care that bacteria will grow
in your ghee - bull patties! They don't even grow in your
butter, which can quite safely be left for short periods
(weeks) at room temperature.
4. I have also seen recipes for making ghee that add things
like cloves to it. Morons! Unless you want everything
flavored with cloves.
5. Then there's the whole cholesterol hoax. These people
need brain transplants, or a good education in biochemistry,
molecular biology, medical charlatanry and bad statistics.
Can we spell "vicious idiotic garbage"?
6. Melted ghee is the best thing in the world to pour over
good popcorn, or pop the corn in a popcorn maker that will
not burn things. Orville would smile.
7. Think about the effect of the oil in the dish you are
making. In some cases, the use of usli ghee would be
a waste. Use soy oil if that is really the unequivocal
situation. Think about altering the recipe so that a
finishing with usli ghee can be used, while the initial
oil (whose flavor will be lost anyhow) is something
You do not want to use usli ghee as a standard deep
frying oil. Even profligate would not cover that idea.
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